Trophoblastic invasion in vitro and in vivo: similarities and differences

Hum Reprod. 2008 Oct;23(10):2282-91. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den198. Epub 2008 Jul 11.


Background: The basic mechanisms of trophoblast invasion are not completely understood. This may be due to the lack of suitable in vitro models which enable experimental modulation of this complex process. In the present study, a three-dimensional co-culture model is used for comparing two factors considered to be implicated in the regulation of trophoblast invasion, the expression of HLA-G and apoptosis, in vitro and in vivo.

Methods: Tissue fragments from human first trimester decidua parietalis were put in close contact with spheroids of AC-1M59 trophoblast/choriocarcinoma hybrid cells as a model of the invasive trophoblast. Cryostat sections from these co-cultures were immunohistochemically stained and compared with first trimester placentation sites in vivo.

Results: Only the invasive trophoblast-derived cells showed an intensive staining for HLA-G, whereas the cells on the periphery of the confrontation culture exhibited only a weak staining. A similar staining pattern was found in vivo. Both in vitro and in vivo CD45(+) apoptotic leukocytes were frequently detected in close proximity to the invasive trophoblastic cells.

Conclusions: In this co-culture system, key factors considered to be implicated in trophoblast invasion in vivo can also be demonstrated in vitro. Therefore, it may help in finding strategies for the management of diseases associated with deficient trophoblast invasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Decidua / cytology
  • Decidua / metabolism
  • Female
  • HLA Antigens / metabolism
  • HLA Antigens / physiology
  • HLA-G Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / cytology
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / metabolism
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / physiology
  • Placentation / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Spheroids, Cellular / cytology
  • Trophoblasts / physiology*


  • HLA Antigens
  • HLA-G Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I